The Australian community tasks its elected representatives in both Houses of Parliament with ensuring that the laws of the Commonwealth are:

  • clear in their intended operation and effect,

  • amenable to consistent and predictable application;

  • directed only at achieving necessary and transparently identified aims; and

  • reasonably and appropriately adapted to achieving their stated aims.

The Law Council expects that, in order to fulfill this responsibility, the Australian Parliament will:

  • subject draft legislation to rigorous scrutiny;

  • provide supporting materials, by way of explanatory memoranda and second reading speeches, which offer comprehensive, reasoned and evidence-based justification for draft legislation;

  • provide supporting materials which accurately and comprehensively explain the intended operation of draft legislation and its likely impact;

  • allow adequate time for meaningful review of draft legislation and the opportunity for genuine debate, both within and outside of the Parliament;

  • consult with stakeholders and interested members of the public in order to ascertain their views on the relative merits and deficiencies of the legislation and in order to gather information about the availability and desirability of alternative approaches; and 

  • safeguard against the unnecessary delegation of unfettered law making authority to the Executive.

For that reason, the Law Council takes a close interest in the work of the Australian Parliament and has been critical in the past about:

  • inadequate timeframes for consultation and debate;

  • the introduction of draft legislation at times which limited public debate;

  • cursory and inaccurate explanatory memoranda and second reading speeches; and

  • the summary dismissal of Parliamentary Committee recommendations.

As well as contributing to the development of specific legislation, the Law Council will continue to advocate for improved legislative standards.